Simply The Best Natives-The American Linden


Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.  ~Khalil Gibran



There is something special about a tree.  A tall, straight old tree that has lived many years and grown to enormous heights.  I imagine them as wise old sages.  And then there are the new, younger, barely a stick trees brought in to take the place of the fallen mighty.  So fragile, I think they will not make it through the howling , harsh winter.  

tree-logoI have profiled my bigger, more stately, trees in years past for Lucy@Loose and Leafy’s Tree Following meme that happens around the 7th of every month.  This year I thought I would watch my newer tree, bought to replace a mighty ash that was felled.  By the time it starts to grow bigger, the other trees will have gone to their rest too.

And I am only planting native trees in an effort to add to the habitat for the critters who live here.  The tree I am following this year is Tilia americana or the American Linden, also known as American Basswood, Lime tree and Bee tree.  And of course it is part of the Linden Family (Tiliaceae).

Tilia americana is native to eastern North America, from New England down to Florida across to Texas, up to North Dakota and all points in between, as well as large part of eastern and central Canada.

Tilia americana is considered a medium-sized to large deciduous tree reaching a height of 60 to 120 ft and a trunk diameter of 3–4 ft. The crown is domed with the branches spreading, and my little tree is already showing these attributes.  The bark is gray to light brown. The roots are large, and spread deeply.  The leaves open from the bud to pale green to yellow-green or yellow in autumn.  

The flowers (pictured above) are small, fragrant, yellowish-white in drooping clusters.  The tree flowers in early to mid summer, and the fruit that forms is small, eventually becoming a dry nutlet.amanda

As I profile this wonderful native tree, I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme.  And I am joining forces once again this year with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to buy native plants for my garden.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.  Check out her wonderful 2015 Spring Catalog to see which natives Ellen is selling this year.




Growing Conditions

DSCN7792The best way to propagate Tilia americana is through cuttings and grafting although it will sucker rapidly.  It is one of the most difficult native North American trees to propagate by seed.  This tree is susceptible to disease and insect attacks, especially Japanese beetles that feed on its leaves.

It can tolerate sun to shade, dry to moist conditions, and likes especially rich loamy, moist, well-drained soil.  I amended the soil in the large hole we dug before we planted the small 4-foot starter tree. Thankfully this tree grows at a medium to fast rate.




Benefits to Wildlife 

Tilia americana’s flowers are pollinated by bees and provide abundant nectar for insects.  It is a DSCN5811wonderful tree for attracting pollinators. There are so many bees covering the flowers, it is sometimes called, Bee tree.  And bees will produce a wonderful honey, with a mildly spicy flavor, from its blooms.

The seeds are sometimes eaten by small mammals such as chipmunks, mice, and squirrels.

It is said rabbits and voles eat the bark, which could produce girdling in young trees, so we keep an eye on it all year, and protect the tree bark in winter.

The leaves host 149 species of Lepidoptera, the majority of butterflies and moths I see in my garden.

Because this tree’s wood rots easily, birds will use holes in the trunk as a nesting place.  Sounds Like a great tree for wildlife as it grows into its spot in the Center Garden.





fruit of linden treeTilia americana is also a great ornamental tree that gives lots of shade, and is often sought after because of this wonderful attribute.  Many gardeners love its form, leaves and fragrant flowers.  But it can be difficult to find plants that will grow under its dense shade.

The wood from this tree is largely used in the making of crates, boxes, yardsticks and furniture.  The wood is also commonly used in the making of electric guitars.

The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal from this tree are also used medicinally.  Linden tea, made from flowers, contains antioxidants, and is said to reduce inflammation, and treat such things as colds, cough, fever, infections, high blood pressure and headaches (especially migraines).  

It is common to treat a cold or insomnia by taking a hot bath in the flowers, and then drinking a tea made from the flowers.

The wood is used to treat liver and gallbladder problems, and when burned and ingested it can treat intestinal disorders.

The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent, and the flowers are used in beauty products. 




Folklore and Tales 

Native Americans made tea from the inner bark to treat lung disorders and upset stomach.  They also made ropes, nets, shoes, clothing, thread and woven mats from the inner bark by soaking and separatingDSCN5145 the fibers.

Folk medicine, practiced by settlers, used the buds, leaves, and flowers to treat headaches and insomnia. 

In both Europe and America, there has been much mysticism associated with Linden trees. It is said the tree’s spirit can teach us about healing and seeing the beauty within, and it represents the spirit of the poet and the dreamer which is reflected in its heart-shaped leaves that are shiny on the under side.  

Here in NY, the tree has a rich history with the local Iroquois tribe, and its False Face Society.  It was said that ritual masks were carved on these trees, then split away from the tree to dry.  If the tree survived, the mask was believed to have supernatural powers.

Linden trees are said to remind us to follow our heart’s desires, and gives us strength to pursue our dreams especially those tucked away and forgotten.  A perfect tree for me to grow in my garden as my dreams continue to grow for the future.



linden collage

Do you grow any native trees?  Do you have a favorite tree?




In A Vase On Monday 


I am cheating a bit this week because I wanted to show you the vases I put together for my birthday in late May.  That day I had the house to myself, and it was such a gloriously sunny, warm day I had to go outside and gather some flowers.  The irises had just started blooming, and I love irises.


bday bouquet

This yellow bearded iris took me by surprise as I had never seen them bloom before by the pond.  And the lighter purple Siberian irises were the first to bloom this year.  Of course I had to add a couple of the blue lupines or Lupinus perennis just growing in my meadow.  So what to round out, and fill out this vase.  Well of course the amazing Golden Alexanders or Zizia aurea that were blooming in the Center Garden.



bday bouquet cake

Yes that is a cheesecake you see there.  My husband is a NY State Fair Cheesecake ribbon winner.  So when he told me he was making me one for my birthday, I just had to decorate it with some of the pansies and violas I grew from seed and that were blooming strong.  There were a few extra that I picked that wouldn’t fit on the cake, so I decided to float them in my cut crystal bowl.  I love the look.




Here is what the two vases looked like together….I really do love purple and yellow in spring. The Golden Alexanders have such an intoxicating sweet scent I had never noticed before.  I love that they are spreading in my meadow.  I wrote a lovely poem about my meadow that sports purple, white and yellow flowers now.




I did make one more small vase this week with some of the other lovely flowers blooming at the moment:  Spanish Bluebells or Hyacinthoides, Wild Geranium or Geranium maculatum, Allium, and an orange Geum.



sm allium vase

I do enjoy when purple and orange mix in my garden and in this vase…..and boy are we surrounded by purple now.  I think that will be a predominant color in vases to come in June until the peonies open.

I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.



Next up on the blog:  

Monday, I will be showing what’s in bloom in the garden…lots of beautiful flowers and some surprises.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog Rambling Woods.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week. 



I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

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